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China overtakes South Africa as Namibia’s biggest export market

WINDHOEK – China has overtaken South Africa as the largest export destination for Namibian products, making up 18.3 percent of total exports in the first quarter of 2018, data from the statistics office showed on Tuesday.

South Africa was ranked second with 18 percent, followed by Belgium with 13 percent of total exports. Botswana and Italy absorbed 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively, of Namibia’s total exports.

Namibia mainly exports ores, nonferrous metal, aquatic products, fur skins and leather products to China while importing textile products, furniture, machinery and electronic items.

The Southwest African country’s economy mostly relied on South Africa, Bahamas, Zambia, China, and Botswana for its import requirements which made up 78 percent of the value of all imports.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) also reported that Namibia’s trade deficit widened to 8.3 billion Namibian dollars ($601 million) in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 4.9 billion Namibian dollars ($355 million) recorded in the corresponding period last year.

The yearly deficit was mainly supported by high domestic demand for foreign goods, thus, inflating the import bill by 33 percent.

On a quarterly basis, the trade deficit worsened by 49 percent from 5.6 billion Namibian dollars ($405 million) in the last quarter of 2017.

“The persistent deficits are mostly driven by Namibia’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and machinery from the rest of the world as opposed to exporting mainly primary commodities that are of low value, with the exception of diamonds,” the NSA said.

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